Moderator Edward Driscoll leads the annual town meeting.
ADAMS, Mass. — Town meeting members approved all 24 articles on the warrant for the annual town meeting on Thursday night, including a total budget for fiscal 2015 of $14 million.
The majority of the articles passed swiftly but town meeting members held several articles for further discussion before passing them, including funding for repairs at Bowe and Renfrew fields, the purchase of police radios and an easement for the planned roundabout.
Held was Article 23, which would allow the town to spend $5,000 on Bowe Field upgrades for the Adams Agricultural Fair. The article was never recommended by the Finance Committee because it was a last-minute addition on to the warrant.
Town meeting members felt this was too much for the listed improvements that included electrical maintenance and painting.
Town Meeting member Beth Gordon recommended that the money go toward a playground at the school. The school has been trying to raise the money.
"That field is used one weekend a year," Gordon said. "That playground will be used by the children and the young people in our town forever."
Town Moderator Edward Driscoll said an amendment of that kind could not be made at town meeting because Cheshire has to be involved with anything that affects the Adams-Cheshire Regional School District.
"Legally Adams can’t do that on its own, and the money would have to be written into the budget with Cheshire’s agreement," Driscoll said.
Town meeting members also held Article 7, which included capital expenses for town equipment and infrastructure with a total of $100,500 from free cash.
There was concern about the $10,000 allocated for the replacement of the infield of Renfrew Field.
Town Administrator Jonathan Butler explained that the Parks Commission recommended the $10,000 and usually the town tries to fit its priority project into the budget. He said the field is mostly a maintenance issue.
"There have been issues with the actual material on the infield;… when it's wet it turns into swamp mud and kids have ankle injuries from it, and when it's dry it turns into dust," Butler said.
Parks Commissioner James Fassell said the commissioners ask for smaller funds to maintain the field every year and they are hoping that $10,000 will provide a permanent fix.
There was concern about other parks in the community that do not get the attention Renfrew Field does.
Butler explained that the town is concerned with the other fields, but they are much larger capital expenses. Russell Field needs a complete renovation and Butler said the town is looking for grants to do this in the next few years.
"That project is in the scope of $500,000 to $750,000, and it would address a number of things and complete revamp that facility," he said.
Town meeting members also questioned the need for a new police radio to replace an obsolete one and a repeater that will help amplify the signal and eliminate some dangerous dead zones at Hoosac Valley High School for a total of $30,000.
Police Chief Richard Tarsa said the repeater will be the first in town and is a much-needed addition to the town's emergency services. He added that a new radio is needed because the department is renting one at the moment and does not own one.
"It's not a 100 percent fix, but it is a step in the right direction," Tarsa said. "It could be anywhere from a 50, 60, to 80 percent improvement over what we have right now; we have a major problem with dead zones in the town."
Tarsa said there are few communication grants for police departments available, but by working through the school can tap into the more plentiful school communication grants.
Town meeting members also held the article to allocate up to $12,000 to purchase an easement needed for the roundabout project at Friend Street and Route 8. Last year, the town voted the easement in for no cost, but that has changed.
"At the time we were under the impression that there was not to be no fiscal obligation for the town for the easements," Butler said. "… We have since learned that that is not the case."
The town can only pay up to the appraised amount of $12,000 and the added money gives the town the ability to negotiate up to that price.
Town meeting asked if the town may have to pay for more of the easements for the project
Butler said probably no.
"The town's position on that is probably no, but anything can change," Butler said. "We sometimes have to go off the faith of people, and what they tell us; if someone changes their perspective we have to act."
Selectmen Chairman Arthur "Skip" Harrington ended the town meeting by thanking Butler for all of his efforts. Butler will not seek reappointment and this town meeting will most likely be his last as a town administrator for Adams.
"I would like to just recognize him for all of the hard work that he has done and how he has brought our town forward," Harrington said. "He has done great things and has been a great person to work for."